Been awhile since I’ve been able to check in, as I’ve been getting started at my new home away from the PB, Bleacher Report, where I cover the American League and have been known to say the odd thing about the Yankees. Now that I’m getting comfortable, I’ll be back here more often. I am also pleased to announce the return of the great Jay Jaffe to these pages starting next week.
Since I last checked in, a lot has happened to the Yankees. Let’s go down the list:
1. Curtis Granderson got nicked up, and so did Nick Swisher. Neither injury seems to be much to be worried about, but they did raise questions as to what the heck the Yankees would do to patch for a serious injury in the outfield. There isn’t any real depth, and stretching Raul Ibanez or Andruw Jones into daily usage isn’t really a solution since it asks them to do things they can’t do, while opening up a hole at DH.
2. Pursuant to the foregoing, Raul Ibanez hasn’t hit at all this spring. He didn’t hit well last year either. Sometimes a 39-year-old who looks done proves to be a 40-year-old who is done. Often, in fact. The Yankees picked up Jack Cust yesterday. In his fleeting glory days with the A’s, Cust was often a valuable hitter, and would be more valuable than Ibanez right now if he had anything left, but that too seems a stretch.
3. Michael Pineda’s velocity has been improved—or it regressed, depending on who you read. It’s like the pitching version of Rashomon. At this point, we’re not going to know anything until we see him get some real starts in the regular season. Then let the real panic begin!
4. Phil Hughes has been rumored to have won the fifth starter’s job over Freddy Garcia. No disrespect to Garcia, but this is the right call—and also likely Hughes’ last chance to establish himself with the Yankees. As for Garcia, he was helpful last year, but was almost certain to regress this year.
5. Joba Chamberlain… Well, you know.
6. Cesar Cabral or Clay Rapada? They’ve both been very good, but Rapada is a known quantity, a southpaw who dominated lefties but turns every righty he sees into Babe Ruth. Cabral has the real upside since he throws hard, and as a Rule 5 pick, the Yankees are in a position where they have to use him or lose him. Bet the upside, lads.
7. Justin Maxwell: Out of options. Yes, and? He’s a useful part, but there’s no room, not if you’re carrying two lefties and 12 total pitchers, including Mr. Garcia. Maxwell is needed, but alas, he’s playing for a spot on another team.
Here is where I traditionally salt in a reference or two to old Batman comics, Warren Gamaliel Harding, or the Battle of Seven Pines. That obligation finished, I will be back shortly with more.